This is the longest recession in modern history and almost everyone has experienced increased levels of stress. One sign of this stress that we are seeing more frequently is a condition called bruxism, or teeth grinding. Patients clench or grind their teeth, usually at night during sleep, so they don’t even realize they are doing it until a tooth breaks or daily headaches cause them to seek treatment.
Normally, 10 to 15 percent of people grind but during the economic downturn many dentists who treat bruxism have seen an increase in stress-related grinding. Traditionally, grinding appears in middle-age and women have typically been the ones seeking treatment. Today however, more neuromuscular dentists are reporting an increase in male patients.
The damage caused by untreated bruxism can be severe. Normal chewing puts about 68 pounds of pressure per square inch on the back teeth, grinding unconsciously at night can cause up of 900 pounds of pressure. Little wonder that teeth break and wear down. This pressure also causes inflammation and damage to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) leading to facial pain, jaw clicking and headaches.
The treatment for bruxism? For many cases a custom orthotic (sometimes called a night guard) protects the teeth from wear and places the jaw in a position that reduces stress on the temporomandibular joint. For patients who have been grinding their teeth for a long time a full-mouth reconstruction may be needed to correct the damage.
In the Columbus area your neuromuscular dentist is Dr. Mark Levy at StoneRidge Dental Care. Please contact us today at 614-476.6696 if you are experiencing the signs of tooth grinding. Speedy treatment will allow us to stop further damage and start the healing process.